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第32节 离开 【
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本文地址:http://www.yeidj.com.cn/book/story.php?id=666
文章摘要:离开 ,理财规划妨害银团,韩勇东遮西掩共赏。

最近发生的几件事成了整个巴黎谈论的话题。艾曼纽和他的妻子,这时就在他们密斯雷路的小房子里颇感兴趣地谈论那些事件。他们在把马尔塞夫、腾格拉尔和维尔福那三件接连而来的灾难作对比。去拜访他们的马西米兰没精打彩地听着他们的谈话,木然地坐在一旁。

“真的,”尤莉说,“我们简直要这样想了,艾曼纽,这些人,在富有、快乐的时候,却忘记了有一个凶神在他们的头上盘旋,而那凶神,象贝洛音话里那些奸恶的小妖精一样,因为没有被邀请去参加婚礼或受洗典礼,不肯受忽视,突然出来为他自己复仇了。”

“意想不到的灾难!”艾曼纽说,他想到了马尔塞夫和腾格拉尔。

“多么难以忍受的痛苦呀!”尤莉说,他想到了瓦朗蒂娜,但凭着一个女人的知觉,她没有在她哥哥的面前提起她。

“如果是上帝在惩罚他们的话,”艾曼纽说,“那是因为至高无上的上帝发现他们过去的生活里找不到值得减轻他们的痛苦的事情,那是因为他们命中注定要受到惩罚的。”

“你这个判断是不是下得卤莽了一点,艾曼纽?”尤莉说。

“当我的父亲拿着手枪想自杀的时候,假如那时有人说,‘这个人是理应受苦的。’那个人岂不是大错特错了吗?”

“是的,但上帝没有让我们的父亲去死呀,正如他不许亚伯拉罕献出他的儿子一样。上帝对那位老人,象对我们一样,派了一位天使来捉住了死神的翅膀。”

艾曼纽刚说出这几句话,铃声响了,——这是门房的信号,表示有客人来访。接着,房门打开了,基督山伯爵出现在门口。那对青年夫妇发出一声欢呼,马西米兰抬起头,但立刻又垂了下去。

“马西米兰,”伯爵说,象是并未注意到自己的来访在主人身上引起的不同反应似的,“我是来找你的。”

“来找我?”莫雷尔把他的话复述了一遍,象是刚从一场梦里醒来。

“是的,”基督山说,“不是说定由我带着你一起走的吗?你做好准备起程的了吗?”

“我准备好了,”马西米兰说,“我是特地来向他们告别的。”

“您到哪儿去,伯爵?”尤莉问道。

“首先到马赛,夫人。”

“到马赛去!”那对青年夫妇喊道。

“是的,我要带你们的哥哥一起去。”

“噢,伯爵!”尤莉说,“你可以医好他的抑郁症吗?

莫雷尔转过脸去,掩饰他狼狈的表情。

“那么你们觉得他并不快乐吗?”伯爵说。

“是的,”那年轻女子答道,“我很担心,他会不会认为我们的家庭是一个没有乐趣的家庭?”

“我没有改变他的。”伯爵答道。

“我马上可以陪你去,阁下。”马西米兰说。“别了,我的朋友们!艾曼纽!尤莉!别了!”

“怎么,别了?”尤莉喊道,“你难道就这样离开我们,不作任何准备,连护照都没有?”

“时间拖长只会增加分离的悲痛,”基督山说,“一切必需的东西马西米兰毫无疑问都已经准备好了,——至少,我这样提醒过他。”

“我有护照了,箱子也收拾好了。”莫雷尔用他的那种宁静而哀伤的口气说。

“好!”基督山微笑着说,“由此可见一个训练有素的军人做事就是利索。”

“您这就要走了,马上就离开了吗?”尤莉说,“您就不能多呆一天,哪怕再多呆一个钟头啊!”

“我的车子在门口等着,夫人,我必须在五天之内赶到罗马。”

“马西米兰也到罗马去吗?”艾曼纽喊道。

“他带我去哪儿我就到哪儿去,”莫雷尔带着忧郁的笑容,“在此后这一个月内,我是属于他的。”

“噢,天哪,他的话说得多么奇怪,伯爵。”尤莉说。

“马西米兰陪着我去,”伯爵用他那种慈爱的和最有说服力的语气说,“所以你们不必为你们的哥哥担心。”

“别了,我亲爱的妹妹,别了,艾曼纽!”莫雷尔又说。

“看他那种漫不经心的样子我的心都碎了,”尤莉说。“噢,马西米兰,马西米兰,你一定对我隐瞒了什么事。”

“嗯!”基督山说,“不久你们将看到他高高兴兴,脸带笑容地回来。”

马西米兰向伯爵轻蔑地、几乎是愤怒的看了一眼。

“我们出发吧。”基督山说。

“在您离开我们以前,伯爵,”尤莉说,“许我们向您表示,将来有一天——”

“夫人,”伯爵打断她的话,把她的双手合在他自己的手里,说,“你所能讲的话,决抵不上我在你的眼睛里所读到的意思,我完全明白你的意思。作为传奇小说里的恩人我本该不辞而别的,可我做不到,因为我是一个软弱的有虚荣心的人,也喜欢我的同类给我温柔、慈爱和感激的眼光。现在我要走了,请允许我自负地对你们说,别忘记我,我的朋友们,因为你们大概永远再也见不到我了。”

“永远见不到你!”艾曼纽喊道,两滴大泪珠则滚下顺着尤莉的脸颊滚下来,——永远也见不到你!那么,离开我们的不是一个人而是一位天使了。这位天使到人世间来做了好事以后,便又要回到天上去了。”

“别那么说,”基督山急忙答道,——“别那么说,我的朋友们。天使是不会做错事情的。天使可以随心所欲地行事。他们的力量胜过命运。不,艾曼纽,我只是一个人,你的赞扬不当,你的话是亵渎神明的。”于是他吻了吻尤莉的手,尤莉扑到他的怀里,他伸出手握了握艾曼纽的手,然后依依不舍地离开这座房子,离开这和平幸福的家庭。他向马西米兰作了手势,驯服地跟他出来,他脸色漠然毫无丧情。瓦朗蒂娜逝世以来,他一直都是这样子。

“请让我哥哥恢复安宁和快乐。”尤莉低声对基督山说。伯爵捏一捏她的手,算是回答,象十一年以前他在莫雷尔的书斋门前楼梯口上握她的手时一模一样。

“那么,你还信得过水手辛巴德吗?”他微笑着问道。

“噢,是的!”

“噢,那么,放心安睡,一切托付给上帝好了。”

正如我们前面所说的,马车已等在门口。四匹强壮的马在不耐烦地蹬踏着地面,在台阶前,站着那满头大汗的阿里,他显然刚赶了大路回来。

“噢,”伯爵用阿拉伯语问道,“你到那位老人家那里去过了吗?”

阿里做了一个肯定的表示。

“你按照我的吩咐,让他看了那封信?”

“他怎么说?说得更准确些,他说什么?”

阿里走到光线下面,使他的主人可以清晰地看到他的脸,模仿诺瓦蒂埃说“对”时的面部表情,闭拢双眼。

“很好!他答应了,”基督山说,“我们走吧。”

他话音刚落,车子便开动了,马蹄在石板路上溅起夹着尘埃的火花。马西米兰一言不发,坐在车厢的角落里。半小时以后,车子突然停住了,原来伯爵把那条从车子里通出去绑在阿里手指上的丝带拉了一下。那个努比亚人立刻下来,打开车门。这是一个繁星满天的夜晚,他们已到达维儿殊山的山顶上,从山上望出去,巴黎象是一片黑色的海,上面闪烁着磷光,象那些银光闪烁的海浪一样,——但这些浪头闪烁比那些海洋里翻腾不息的波浪更喧闹、更激奋、更多变、更凶猛、也更贪婪。这些浪头永远吐着白沫、永不停息的。伯爵独自立在那儿,他挥挥手,车子又向前走了几步。他把两臂交叉在胸前,沉思了一会儿,他的脑子象一座熔炉,曾铸造出种种激动世界的念头。当他那锐利的目光注视着这个为热心的宗教家、唯物主义者所同样注意的现代巴比伦的时候,他低垂着头,合拢手,象做祈祷似地说道:“伟大的城市呀,自从我第一次闯进你的大门到现在,还不到半年。我这次到这里来,其中的原因,我只向天主透露过,只有他才有力量看穿我的心思。只有上帝知道:我离开你的时候,既没有带走骄傲也没有带走仇恨,但却带走了遗憾。只有上帝知道:他所交给我的权力,我并没有用来满足我的私欲或作任何无意义的举动。噢,伟大的城市呀!在你那跳动的胸膛里,我找到了我要找的东西,象一个耐心的矿工一样,我在你的体内挖掘,铲除了其中的祸害。现在我的工作完成了,我的使命结束了,现在你不能再给我痛苦或欢乐了。别了,巴黎!别了!”

他的目光象一个夜间的精灵一样在那广大的平原上留连着,他把手放在额头上走进马车,关上车门,车子便在一阵尘沙和响声中消失在山的那一边了。

车行了六哩路,没有人说一句话。莫雷尔在梦想,基督山则一直望着他。

“莫雷尔,”伯爵终于对他说,“你后悔跟我来吗?”

“不,伯爵,但离开巴黎——”

“如果我以为巴黎会让你快乐,莫雷尔,我就会把你留在那儿的。”

“瓦朗蒂娜安息在巴黎,离开巴黎就象是第二次再失去她一样。”

“马西米兰,”伯爵说,“我们失去的朋友不是安息在大地的胸膛里而是深深地埋在我们的心底。上帝是这样安排的,他们永远陪伴着我们。我就有这样两个朋友——一个给了我这个身体,一个给了我智慧。他们的精神活在我的身上。我每当有疑问的时候就与他们商量,如果我做了什么好事的话,我就归功于他们的忠告。听听你心里的声音吧,莫雷尔。你问问它,究竟你是否应该继续给我看一个忧郁的面孔。”

“我的朋友,”马西米兰说,“我心里的声音非常悲哀,我只听到不幸。”

“这是神经衰弱的缘故,一切东西看上去都象是隔着一层黑纱似的。灵魂有它自己的视线,你的灵魂被遮住了,所以你看到的未来是黑暗险恶的。”

“或许真是那样。”马西米兰说,他又回到梦思的状态中。

伯爵的无限本领使旅程完成得惊人地迅速,在他们所经的路上,市镇象影子似的向后飞去,那被初秋的风的吹得左右摇摆的树木,巨人般地向他们疯狂地迎面冲来,但一冲到面前便又急速地后退。第二天早上,他们到达夏龙,那儿,伯爵的汽船已在等待他们。马车立刻被拉上甲板,两位旅客也立即登船。那艘汽船是特造的快艇,它那两只划水轮象翅膀一样,船象鸟儿似的在水面上滑行。莫雷尔感到了这种在空中急速穿过的快感,风吹起他前额的头发,似乎暂时驱散了那凝聚在他额头上的愁云。两位旅客与巴黎之间距离愈来愈远,伯爵的身上也愈呈现出一种超乎人类所能有的宁静的气氛,象是一个流亡多年的人回到阔别多年的故乡似的。不久,马赛进入眼帘了,——那充满着生命活力的马赛,那繁衍着泰尔和迦太兰族后裔的马赛,那随着时间的推移愈来愈精力充沛的马赛。一看到那圆塔、圣·尼古拉堡和那砖块砌成的码头,记忆便搅动了他们的内心,当他们还是小孩子的时候,曾在这些地方玩耍过。他们怀着同样的心绪踏上卡尼般丽街。

一艘大船正在升帆待发,准备开赴阿尔及尔,船上洋溢着一片起程前常有的那种匆忙喧闹。乘客和他们的亲友们群集在码头上,朋友们互相亲切而伤心地告别,有的哭泣,有的诉说着告别的话,形成了一种令人感动的场面,即使那些每天看到同样情形的人也不会无动于衷,但这却不能使马西米兰从他那奔腾的思潮里唤醒过来。

“这儿,”他无力地扶着基督山手臂说,——“就在这个地方,我的父亲曾站着看埃及王号进港,就在这个地方,你救了他。脱离了死境和耻辱的父亲扑入我的怀里。我现在还觉得我的脸上沾着他那温热的眼泪,但那时并不只有他一个人流泪,许多旁观的人也都哭了。”

基督山温和地微笑着说:“我那时站在那个地方,”他指着一个街角。当他说话的时候,就在他所指的那个方向,传来一声痛苦伤心的呻吟,一个女人正在向即将起锚的船上的一个旅客挥手。要不是莫雷尔的眼光这时的注意力集中在船上,他一定会注意到基督山看见那个女人时那种激动的情绪。

“噢,天哪!”莫雷尔喊道,“我没有弄错!那个在挥帽子的青年人,那个穿制服的年轻人,是阿尔贝·马尔塞夫!”

“是的,”基督山说,“我也认出他了。”

“怎么会呢?你在看着他对面的方向呀。”

伯爵微笑了一下,当他不想回答的时候,他总是这样微笑的,他把眼光回到那蒙面的女人身上,那女人不久便消失在街角上。伯爵回过头来对他的朋友说:“亲爱的马西米兰,你在这儿没有什么事情要做吗?”

“我得到我父亲的坟上去一趟。”莫雷尔用一种哽咽的声音说。

“那么去吧,在那儿等我,我很快来找你。”

“那么你现在要离开我了?”

“是的,我也要去访问一个人。”

莫雷尔把手放在伯爵伸过来的手里,然后低垂着头悲伤地离开伯爵,向城东走去。基督山仍站在老地方,一直等到马西米兰走出他的视线,然后他慢慢地向梅朗巷走过去,去找一所小房子,那所小房子,想必读者们已对它相当熟悉了。

它坐落在无事的马赛人最爱到这儿来散步的大道的后面,一棵极大的葡萄树的年老发黑的枝条伏在那被南方灼热的太阳晒得发黄的墙上。两级被鞋底磨光的石头台阶通向由三块木板所拼成的门,那扇门,从来没上过油漆,早已露出裂缝,只在每年夏季到来的时候才因潮湿合成一块。这座房子外表虽然很破,但却有它美丽动人的地方。它和老唐太斯以前住在这儿的时候并没有两样,但老人只住阁楼,而伯爵现在则已把整幢房子都交给美塞苔丝掌管。

伯爵看见郁郁不欢地离开码头的那个女人走进这座房子,她刚走进去,关上门,基督山便在街角上出现,所以他几乎刚看见她便又失去了她的踪迹。那磨损的石阶是他的老相识,他比谁都清楚,用一枚大头钉就要以拨开里面的插销来打开那扇风雨剥蚀的门。他进去的时候不敲门也没有任何其他表示,好象他是主人的亲密的朋友或房东一样。在一条砖块铺成的甬道尽头有一个小花园浴在阳光里,在这个小花园里,美塞苔丝曾根据伯爵的指示找到他二十四年以前埋下的那笔钱。站在门口的阶沿上就可以看见花园里的树木。伯爵在踏进那座房子的时候听见一声好象啜泣一样的叹息;他循望过去,那儿,在一个素馨木架成的凉棚底下,在浓密的枝叶和紫色的细长花朵的下面,他看见美塞苔丝正在垂头哭泣。她已揭起面纱,她的脸埋在手里,独对苍天之际,她自由地发泄着在她儿子面前抑制了这么久的叹息和眼泪。基督山向前走了几步,小石子在他的脚底下发出的声音使美塞苔丝抬起头来,看见一个男人站在她的面前,她惊恐地大叫。

“夫人,”伯爵说,“我已经没有办法使你快乐了,但我还可以给你安慰,你肯把我当朋友看待,并接受我的安慰吗?”

“我的确薄命,”美塞苔丝答道。——“孤零零地活在世界上。我只有一个儿子,而他已经离我远去了!”

“他有一颗高贵的心,夫人,”伯爵答道,“他做得很对。他觉得每一个人都应该对他的国家有所贡献,有人贡献他们的天才,有人贡献他们的勤勉,有人献出了他们的血,有人献出了他们的才智,都是为了同样的目的。如果他留在你的身边,他的生命一定会变得毫无意义,他将无法分担你的忧虑。与厄运抗争,他将增加他的精力并提高他的名誉,把逆境变为顺境。让他去为你们创造美好的未来吧。因为我敢向你保证他会得到细心的照料的。”

“噢!”那可怜的女人悲戚地摇摇头,“你所说的那种顺境,我从心坎里祈祷上帝赐给他,但我不能享受了。我已万念俱灰,我觉得坟墓已离我不远了。你是个好心人,伯爵,把我带回我曾经快乐过的地方。人是应该死在他曾经有过快乐的那个地方的。”

“唉!”基督山说,“你的话让我心痛,尤其是你有理由恨我,——你的一切不幸都是我造或的。但你为什么要怜悯我呢?你使我更难堪,如果——”

“恨你,责备你,——你?爱德蒙?憎恨责备那个饶恕我儿子的生命的人?你本来发誓,要毁灭马尔塞夫先生非常引以自傲的那个儿子,但您没有那么做。”

伯爵看着美塞苔丝,她站起身,向他伸出双手。

“噢,看着我!”她带着一种非常哀戚的神情继续说,“我的眼睛已没有光彩了,以前,我到这儿来,向那在他父亲所住的阁楼窗口等待我的爱德蒙·唐太斯微笑,但那是很久以前的事了。岁月随着痛苦流逝。在那些日子与现在之间造成了一道深渊。咒你,爱德蒙!恨你,我的朋友!不,我应责备的是我自己,我所恨的是我自己!噢,我这可怜的人哪!”

她紧握着双手,抬头向天喊道。“我受了怎样的罚呀!——那让天使快乐的三个因素,我曾一度拥有虔敬、纯洁和爱——而我现在变成了一个可怜虫,居然怀疑上帝的仁慈了!”

基督山走过去,默默地握住她的一只手。

“不,” 她轻轻地抽回那只手说,——“不,我的朋友,不要碰我。你饶恕了我,但在遭你报复的那些人之中,我是罪孽最深的人。他们或是出于仇恨,或是出于贪欲,或是出于私爱,但我却下贱,缺乏勇气,竟违背自己的判断行事。不,不要握我的手,爱德蒙,你想说一些亲切的话,我看得出的,但别说了。留给别人吧,我是不配再接受那种话的了。瞧,”

她抬起头,让他看到她的脸,“瞧,不幸已使我白了头,我曾流过那样多的眼泪,没有了光彩,我的额头出现了皱纹。你,爱德蒙,却恰恰相反,你依旧还年轻、漂亮、威风,那是因为你从未怀疑过上帝的仁慈,上帝支持你经过了历次风险。”

当美塞苔丝说话的时候,泪珠成串成串地滚下她的脸颊。

记忆使她的痛苦更清晰,那可怜的女人的心碎了。基督山拿起她的手,恭敬地吻了一下,但她觉得那是一个没有温情的吻,象是他在吻一个圣女的大理石像的手一样。 “人的一生是命中注定的,”她继续说,“一次过失就会失去终生的幸福。我相信你已经死了,本来也该去死?我在心里为你哀悼对我有什么好处呢?只是使一个三十九岁的女人看来象一个五十岁的老太婆而已。为什么,只有我一个人认出你,而我却只能救我的儿子一个人呢?我也应该拯救那个虽然有罪但却已被我接受为丈夫的那个人?可是我却听任他去死!我说什么呀?噢,仁慈的上帝!他的死不是我促成的吗?因为我因循麻木,瞧不起他,不愿意记得他是为了我的缘故才犯下变节叛卖的罪行。我陪我的儿子来了这儿,有什么用呢?既然我现在又失去了他,让他独自去受非洲恶毒的气候。噢,我告诉你,我曾是个下贱懦怯的女人,我背弃我的爱情,象所有背叛教义的人一样,我把不幸带给了我周围的人!”

“不,美塞苔丝,”基督山说,“不,你把自己说得太坏了。你是一位高尚纯洁的女性,是你的悲痛软化了我的心。可是,我只是一个使者,指使我的是一位看不见的恼怒的上帝,他无意使我那已经开始的惩罚半途而废。我以那位过去十年来我每天俯伏在他脚上的上帝作证,我本来愿意为你牺牲我的生命,和那与我的生命不可分割的种种计划。但是,——我可以很自傲地说,美塞苔丝——上帝需要我,为了上帝活下来了。请审视我的过去与现在,并猜测将来,然后再说我究竟是否只是神的工具。不幸、痛苦、被人遗弃、受人迫害,这一切构成了我青年时代的苦难。然后,突然地,从囚禁、孤独、痛苦中,重新获得了光明和自由,拥有了一大笔闻所未闻的财产,假如那时我不明白是上帝要我用那笔财产来执行他伟大的计划,我一定是瞎了眼睛了。从那时起,我就把这笔财产看成上帝的神圣托付。从那时起,我就没有再想过那种即使象你这样可怜的女人有时也能享到甜蜜生命的。这不曾得到一小时的安静,——一次都没有。我觉得自己象是一片要去烧毁那些命中注定该毁灭的城市的火云,被驱赶着在天空中飞行。象那些富于冒险精神的船长要去进行某种充满危险的航程一样,我作了种种准备,在枪膛里装上子弹,拟定各种进攻和防守的方案,我用最剧烈的运动锻炼我的身体,用最痛苦考验磨炼我的灵魂。我训练手臂使它习惯于杀人,训练我的眼睛习惯于看人受折磨,训练我的嘴巴对最可怖的情景微笑。我的本性虽然善良、坦率和宽大,但我却能变成了狡猾、奸诈、有仇必报,——或说得更确切一些,变得象命运一样的冷酷无情。然后我踏上展现在我面前的征途。我克服了种种障碍,达到我的目标,那些企图挡住我道路的人却遭了殃!”

“够了!”美塞苔丝说,“够了,爱德蒙!相信我,只有那个一开始就认识你的是了解你的,即使她曾挡住你的路,即使你曾把她象一块脆玻璃那样踩得粉碎,可是,爱德蒙,可是她依旧还是崇拜你!象我与过去之间存在着一条鸿沟一样,你与其他的人之间,也存在着一道深渊。我可以担白地告诉你,把我心目中你和其他男子比较,这是使我痛苦的主要原因。不,世界上再没有象你那样可敬和善良的人了,现在让我们告别吧,爱德蒙,让我们分手吧。”

“在我离开你以前,美塞苔丝,你没有任何要求了吗?”伯爵说。

“我在这个世上存有一个希望,爱德蒙,——希望我儿子能够幸福。”

“请祈祷上帝保佑他,我可以努力让他幸福。”

“谢谢,谢谢,爱德蒙!”

“但对你自己难道毫无所求吗,美塞苔丝?”

“我自己什么都不需要,我象是生活在两座坟墓之间。一座是爱德蒙·唐太斯的,我是在很久很久以前失去他的。我爱他。这句话从我这褪色的嘴唇上说出来并不动听,但它是我心里珍藏的一个宝贵记忆,即使用世界上一切的东西来交换,我也不愿意失去它。另外那座坟墓是死在爱德蒙手里的那个人的,我并不惋惜他死,但我必须为死者祈祷。”

“你的儿子会幸福的,夫人。”伯爵说。

“那么我还能够得到一些安慰了。”

“但你准备怎么样呢?”

“说我在这儿能象以前的美塞苔丝那样凭劳动换取面包,那当然不是真话,说了你也不会相信。我除了祈祷以外,已经不能再做别的事情了。但是,我也没有必要工作,你埋下的那一笔钱,我已经找到了,那笔钱已足够维持我的生活。关于我的谣言大概会很多,猜测我的职业,谈论我的生活态度,只要有上帝作证,那没有了什么关系。”

“美塞苔丝,”伯爵说,“我说这句话并不是来责备你,但你放弃马尔塞夫先生的全部财产是一种不必要的牺牲。其中至少有一半是理应是属于你的,那是精心操持那个家应得的。我不能接受,爱德蒙。我的儿子不答应的。我知道你要向我建议什么。”

“一切当然应该得到阿尔贝·马尔塞夫的完全认可。”我将亲自去征询他的意见。如果他愿意接受我的建议,你会反对吗?”

“你很清楚,爱德蒙,我已经不再是一个理智的人了,没有了意志,已经不能决定了。我已被那冲到我头上来的惊涛骇浪弄糊涂了,我已变得听天由命、听任上帝的摆布,象是大鹰扑下的燕子一样。我活着,只是因为我命中注定还不应该死。假如上帝来援救我,我是肯接受的。”

“啊,夫人,”基督山说,“我们不是这样崇拜上帝的。上帝的本意是要我们了解他,辩明他的真意,为了这个原因,他给了我们自由意志的。”

“噢!”美塞苔丝喊道,“别对我说那句话!难道我应该相信上帝给了我自由的意志,我能用它来把我自己从绝望中解救出来吗?”

基督山低下头,在她那样沉痛的悲哀面前不禁有点畏缩。

“你不愿意和我说一声再见吗?”他问道,并向她伸出手。

“当然,我要对你说再见,”美塞苔丝说,并庄严地指着天。“我对你说这两个字,就是向你表示:我还怀着希望。”于是,美塞苔丝用她那颤抖的手和伯爵的手握了握以后,便冲上楼去。

基督山慢慢地离开那所房子,向码头走去。美塞苔丝虽然坐在以前老唐太斯所住的那个房间的小窗前面,却并没有看到他离开了。她正在极目了望大海上那艘载着她儿子的船,但她却仍不由自主地用温柔的声音轻轻地说:“爱德蒙!爱德蒙!爱德蒙!”

THE RECENT event formed the theme of conversation throughout all Paris. Emmanuel and his wife conversed with natural astonishment in their little apartment in the Rue Meslay upon the three successive, sudden, and most unexpected catastrophes of Morcerf, Danglars, and Villefort. Maximilian, who was paying them a visit, listened to their conversation, or rather was present at it, plunged in his accustomed state of apathy. "Indeed," said Julie, "might we not almost fancy, Emmanuel, that those people, so rich, so happy but yesterday, had forgotten in their prosperity that an evil genius--like the wicked fairies in Perrault's stories who present themselves unbidden at a wedding or baptism--hovered over them, and appeared all at once to revenge himself for their fatal neglect?"

"What a dire misfortune!" said Emmanuel, thinking of Morcerf and Danglars.

"What dreadful sufferings!" said Julie, remembering Valentine, but whom, with a delicacy natural to women, she did not name before her brother.

"If the Supreme Being has directed the fatal blow," said Emmanuel, "it must be that he in his great goodness has perceived nothing in the past lives of these people to merit mitigation of their awful punishment."

"Do you not form a very rash judgment, Emmanuel?" said Julie. "When my father, with a pistol in his hand, was once on the point of committing suicide, had any one then said, 'This man deserves his misery,' would not that person have been deceived?"

"Yes; but your father was not allowed to fall. A being was commissioned to arrest the fatal hand of death about to descend on him."

Emmanuel had scarcely uttered these words when the sound of the bell was heard, the well-known signal given by the porter that a visitor had arrived. Nearly at the same instant the door was opened and the Count of Monte Cristo appeared on the threshold. The young people uttered a cry of joy, while Maximilian raised his head, but let it fall again immediately. "Maximilian," said the count, without appearing to notice the different impressions which his presence produced on the little circle, "I come to seek you."

"To seek me?" repeated Morrel, as if awakening from a dream.

"Yes," said Monte Cristo; "has it not been agreed that I should take you with me, and did I not tell you yesterday to prepare for departure?"

"I am ready," said Maximilian; "I came expressly to wish them farewell."

"Whither are you going, count?" asked Julie.

"In the first instance to Marseilles, madame."

"To Marseilles!" exclaimed the young couple.

"Yes, and I take your brother with me."

"Oh, count." said Julie, "will you restore him to us cured of his melancholy?"--Morrel turned away to conceal the confusion of his countenance.

"You perceive, then, that he is not happy?" said the count. "Yes," replied the young woman; "and fear much that he finds our home but a dull one."

"I will undertake to divert him," replied the count.

"I am ready to accompany you, sir," said Maximilian. "Adieu, my kind friends! Emmanuel--Julie--farewell!"

"How farewell?" exclaimed Julie; "do you leave us thus, so suddenly, without any preparations for your journey, without even a passport?"

"Needless delays but increase the grief of parting," said Monte Cristo, "and Maximilian has doubtless provided himself with everything requisite; at least, I advised him to do so."

"I have a passport, and my clothes are ready packed," said Morrel in his tranquil but mournful manner.

"Good," said Monte Cristo, smiling; "in these prompt arrangements we recognize the order of a well-disciplined soldier."

"And you leave us," said Julie, "at a moment's warning? you do not give us a day--no, not even an hour before your departure?"

"My carriage is at the door, madame, and I must be in Rome in five days."

"But does Maximilian go to Rome?" exclaimed Emmanuel.

"I am going wherever it may please the count to take me," said Morrel, with a smile full of grief; "I am under his orders for the next month."

"Oh, heavens, how strangely he expresses himself, count!" said Julie.

"Maximilian goes with me," said the count, in his kindest and most persuasive manner; "therefore do not make yourself uneasy on your brother's account."

"Once more farewell, my dear sister; Emmanuel, adieu!" Morrel repeated.

"His carelessness and indifference touch me to the heart," said Julie. "Oh, Maximilian, Maximilian, you are certainly concealing something from us."

"Pshaw!" said Monte Cristo, "you will see him return to you gay, smiling, and joyful."

Maximilian cast a look of disdain, almost of anger, on the count.

"We must leave you," said Monte Cristo.

"Before you quit us, count," said Julie, "will you permit us to express to you all that the other day"--

"Madame," interrupted the count, taking her two hands in his, "all that you could say in words would never express what I read in your eyes; the thoughts of your heart are fully understood by mine. Like benefactors in romances, I should have left you without seeing you again, but that would have been a virtue beyond my strength, because I am a weak and vain man, fond of the tender, kind, and thankful glances of my fellow-creatures. On the eve of departure I carry my egotism so far as to say, 'Do not forget me, my kind friends, for probably you will never see me again.'"

"Never see you again?" exclaimed Emmanuel, while two large tears rolled down Julie's cheeks, "never behold you again? It is not a man, then, but some angel that leaves us, and this angel is on the point of returning to heaven after having appeared on earth to do good."

"Say not so," quickly returned Monte Cristo--"say not so, my friends; angels never err, celestial beings remain where they wish to be. Fate is not more powerful than they; it is they who, on the contrary, overcome fate. No, Emmanuel, I am but a man, and your admiration is as unmerited as your words are sacrilegious." And pressing his lips on the hand of Julie, who rushed into his arms, he extended his other hand to Emmanuel; then tearing himself from this abode of peace and happiness, he made a sign to Maximilian, who followed him passively, with the indifference which had been perceptible in him ever since the death of Valentine had so stunned him. "Restore my brother to peace and happiness," whispered Julie to Monte Cristo. And the count pressed her hand in reply, as he had done eleven years before on the staircase leading to Morrel's study.

"You still confide, then, in Sinbad the Sailor?" asked he, smiling.

"Oh, yes," was the ready answer.

"Well, then, sleep in peace, and put your trust in heaven." As we have before said, the postchaise was waiting; four powerful horses were already pawing the ground with impatience, while Ali, apparently just arrived from a long walk, was standing at the foot of the steps, his face bathed in perspiration. "Well," asked the count in Arabic, "have you been to see the old man?" Ali made a sign in the affirmative.

"And have you placed the letter before him, as I ordered you to do?"

The slave respectfully signalized that he had. "And what did he say, or rather do?" Ali placed himself in the light, so that his master might see him distinctly, and then imitating in his intelligent manner the countenance of the old man, he closed his eyes, as Noirtier was in the custom of doing when saying "Yes."

"Good; he accepts," said Monte Cristo. "Now let us go."

These words had scarcely escaped him, when the carriage was on its way, and the feet of the horses struck a shower of sparks from the pavement. Maximilian settled himself in his corner without uttering a word. Half an hour had passed when the carriage stopped suddenly; the count had just pulled the silken check-string, which was fastened to Ali's finger. The Nubian immediately descended and opened the carriage door. It was a lovely starlight night--they had just reached the top of the hill Villejuif, from whence Paris appears like a sombre sea tossing its millions of phosphoric waves into light--waves indeed more noisy, more passionate, more changeable, more furious, more greedy, than those of the tempestuous ocean,--waves which never rest as those of the sea sometimes do,--waves ever dashing, ever foaming, ever ingulfing what falls within their grasp. The count stood alone, and at a sign from his hand, the carriage went on for a short distance. With folded arms, he gazed for some time upon the great city. When he had fixed his piercing look on this modern Babylon, which equally engages the contemplation of the religious enthusiast, the materialist, and the scoffer,--"Great city," murmured he, inclining his head, and joining his hands as if in prayer, "less than six months have elapsed since first I entered thy gates. I believe that the Spirit of God led my steps to thee and that he also enables me to quit thee in triumph; the secret cause of my presence within thy walls I have confided alone to him who only has had the power to read my heart. God only knows that I retire from thee without pride or hatred, but not without many regrets; he only knows that the power confided to me has never been made subservient to my personal good or to any useless cause. Oh, great city, it is in thy palpitating bosom that I have found that which I sought; like a patient miner, I have dug deep into thy very entrails to root out evil thence. Now my work is accomplished, my mission is terminated, now thou canst neither afford me pain nor pleasure. Adieu, Paris, adieu!"

His look wandered over the vast plain like that of some genius of the night; he passed his hand over his brow, got into the carriage, the door was closed on him, and the vehicle quickly disappeared down the other side of the hill in a whirlwind of noise and dust.

Ten leagues were passed and not a single word was uttered.

Morrel was dreaming, and Monte Cristo was looking at the dreamer.

"Morrel," said the count to him at length, "do you repent having followed me?"

"No, count; but to leave Paris"--

"If I thought happiness might await you in Paris, Morrel, I would have left you there."

"Valentine reposes within the walls of Paris, and to leave Paris is like losing her a second time."

"Maximilian," said the count, "the friends that we have lost do not repose in the bosom of the earth, but are buried deep in our hearts, and it has been thus ordained that we may always be accompanied by them. I have two friends, who in this way never depart from me; the one who gave me being, and the other who conferred knowledge and intelligence on me. Their spirits live in me. I consult them when doubtful, and if I ever do any good, it is due to their beneficent counsels. Listen to the voice of your heart, Morrel, and ask it whether you ought to preserve this melancholy exterior towards me."

"My friend," said Maximilian, "the voice of my heart is very sorrowful, and promises me nothing but misfortune."

"It is the way of weakened minds to see everything through a black cloud. The soul forms its own horizons; your soul is darkened, and consequently the sky of the future appears stormy and unpromising."

"That may possibly be true," said Maximilian, and he again subsided into his thoughtful mood.

The journey was performed with that marvellous rapidity which the unlimited power of the count ever commanded. Towns fled from them like shadows on their path, and trees shaken by the first winds of autumn seemed like giants madly rushing on to meet them, and retreating as rapidly when once reached. The following morning they arrived at Chalons, where the count's steamboat waited for them. Without the loss of an instant, the carriage was placed on board and the two travellers embarked without delay. The boat was built for speed; her two paddle-wheels were like two wings with which she skimmed the water like a bird. Morrel was not insensible to that sensation of delight which is generally experienced in passing rapidly through the air, and the wind which occasionally raised the hair from his forehead seemed on the point of dispelling momentarily the clouds collected there.

As the distance increased between the travellers and Paris, almost superhuman serenity appeared to surround the count; he might have been taken for an exile about to revisit his native land. Ere long Marseilles presented herself to view,--Marseilles, white, fervid, full of life and energy,--Marseilles, the younger sister of Tyre and Carthage, the successor to them in the empire of the Mediterranean,--Marseilles, old, yet always young. Powerful memories were stirred within them by the sight of the round tower, Fort Saint-Nicolas, the City Hall designed by Puget, the port with its brick quays, where they had both played in childhood, and it was with one accord that they stopped on the Cannebiere. A vessel was setting sail for Algiers, on board of which the bustle usually attending departure prevailed. The passengers and their relations crowded on the deck, friends taking a tender but sorrowful leave of each other, some weeping, others noisy in their grief, the whole forming a spectacle that might be exciting even to those who witnessed similar sights daily, but which had no power to disturb the current of thought that had taken possession of the mind of Maximilian from the moment he had set foot on the broad pavement of the quay.

"Here," said he, leaning heavily on the arm of Monte Cristo,--"here is the spot where my father stopped, when the Pharaon entered the port; it was here that the good old man, whom you saved from death and dishonor, threw himself into my arms. I yet feel his warm tears on my face, and his were not the only tears shed, for many who witnessed our meeting wept also." Monte Cristo gently smiled and said,--"I was there;" at the same time pointing to the corner of a street. As he spoke, and in the very direction he indicated, a groan, expressive of bitter grief, was heard, and a woman was seen waving her hand to a passenger on board the vessel about to sail. Monte Cristo looked at her with an emotion that must have been remarked by Morrel had not his eyes been fixed on the vessel.

"Oh, heavens!" exclaimed Morrel, "I do not deceive myself--that young man who is waving his hat, that youth in the uniform of a lieutenant, is Albert de Morcerf!"

"Yes," said Monte Cristo, "I recognized him."

"How so?--you were looking the other way." the count smiled, as he was in the habit of doing when he did not want to make any reply, and he again turned towards the veiled woman, who soon disappeared at the corner of the street. Turning to his friend,--"Dear Maximilian," said the count, "have you nothing to do in this land?"

"I have to weep over the grave of my father," replied Morrel in a broken voice.

"Well, then, go,--wait for me there, and I will soon join you."

"You leave me, then?" "Yes; I also have a pious visit to pay."

Morrel allowed his hand to fall into that which the count extended to him; then with an inexpressibly sorrowful inclination of the head he quitted the count and bent his steps to the east of the city. Monte Cristo remained on the same spot until Maximilian was out of sight; he then walked slowly towards the Allées de Meillan to seek out a small house with which our readers were made familiar at the beginning of this story. It yet stood, under the shade of the fine avenue of lime-trees, which forms one of the most frequent walks of the idlers of Marseilles, covered by an immense vine, which spreads its aged and blackened branches over the stone front, burnt yellow by the ardent sun of the south. Two stone steps worn away by the friction of many feet led to the door, which was made of three planks; the door had never been painted or varnished, so great cracks yawned in it during the dry season to close again when the rains came on. The house, with all its crumbling antiquity and apparent misery, was yet cheerful and picturesque, and was the same that old Dantès formerly inhabited--the only difference being that the old man occupied merely the garret, while the whole house was now placed at the command of Mercédès by the count.

The woman whom the count had seen leave the ship with so much regret entered this house; she had scarcely closed the door after her when Monte Cristo appeared at the corner of a street, so that he found and lost her again almost at the same instant. The worn out steps were old acquaintances of his; he knew better than any one else how to open that weather-beaten door with the large headed nail which served to raise the latch within. He entered without knocking, or giving any other intimation of his presence, as if he had been a friend or the master of the place. At the end of a passage paved with bricks, was a little garden, bathed in sunshine, and rich in warmth and light. In this garden Mercédès had found, at the place indicated by the count, the sum of money which he, through a sense of delicacy, had described as having been placed there twenty-four years previously. The trees of the garden were easily seen from the steps of the street-door. Monte Cristo, on stepping into the house, heard a sigh that was almost a deep sob; he looked in the direction whence it came, and there under an arbor of Virginia jessamine, with its thick foliage and beautiful long purple flowers, he saw Mercédès seated, with her head bowed, and weeping bitterly. She had raised her veil, and with her face hidden by her hands was giving free scope to the sighs and tears which had been so long restrained by the presence of her son. Monte Cristo advanced a few steps, which were heard on the gravel. Mercédès raised her head, and uttered a cry of terror on beholding a man before her.

"Madame," said the count, "it is no longer in my power to restore you to happiness, but I offer you consolation; will you deign to accept it as coming from a friend?"

"I am, indeed, most wretched," replied Mercédès. "Alone in the world, I had but my son, and he has left me!"

"He possesses a noble heart, madame," replied the count, "and he has acted rightly. He feels that every man owes a tribute to his country; some contribute their talents, others their industry; these devote their blood, those their nightly labors, to the same cause. Had he remained with you, his life must have become a hateful burden, nor would he have participated in your griefs. He will increase in strength and honor by struggling with adversity, which he will convert into prosperity. Leave him to build up the future for you, and I venture to say you will confide it to safe hands."

"Oh," replied the wretched woman, mournfully shaking her head, "the prosperity of which you speak, and which, from the bottom of my heart, I pray God in his mercy to grant him, I can never enjoy. The bitter cup of adversity has been drained by me to the very dregs, and I feel that the grave is not far distant. You have acted kindly, count, in bringing me back to the place where I have enjoyed so much bliss. I ought to meet death on the same spot where happiness was once all my own."

"Alas," said Monte Cristo, "your words sear and embitter my heart, the more so as you have every reason to hate me. I have been the cause of all your misfortunes; but why do you pity, instead of blaming me? You render me still more unhappy--"

"Hate you, blame you--you, Edmond! Hate, reproach, the man that has spared my son's life! For was it not your fatal and sanguinary intention to destroy that son of whom M. de Morcerf was so proud? Oh, look at me closely, and discover if you can even the semblance of a reproach in me." The count looked up and fixed his eyes on Mercédès, who arose partly from her seat and extended both her hands towards him. "Oh, look at me," continued she, with a feeling of profound melancholy, "my eyes no longer dazzle by their brilliancy, for the time has long fled since I used to smile on Edmond Dantès, who anxiously looked out for me from the window of yonder garret, then inhabited by his old father. Years of grief have created an abyss between those days and the present. I neither reproach you nor hate you, my friend. Oh, no, Edmond, it is myself that I blame, myself that I hate! Oh, miserable creature that I am!" cried she, clasping her hands, and raising her eyes to heaven. "I once possessed piety, innocence, and love, the three ingredients of the happiness of angels, and now what am I?" Monte Cristo approached her, and silently took her hand. "No," said she, withdrawing it gently--"no, my friend, touch me not. You have spared me, yet of all those who have fallen under your vengeance I was the most guilty. They were influenced by hatred, by avarice, and by self-love; but I was base, and for want of courage acted against my judgment. Nay, do not press my hand, Edmond; you are thinking, I am sure, of some kind speech to console me, but do not utter it to me, reserve it for others more worthy of your kindness. See" (and she exposed her face completely to view)--"see, misfortune has silvered my hair, my eyes have shed so many tears that they are encircled by a rim of purple, and my brow is wrinkled. You, Edmond, on the contrary,--you are still young, handsome, dignified; it is because you have had faith; because you have had strength, because you have had trust in God, and God has sustained you. But as for me, I have been a coward; I have denied God and he has abandoned me."

Mercédès burst into tears; her woman's heart was breaking under its load of memories. Monte Cristo took her hand and imprinted a kiss on it; but she herself felt that it was a kiss of no greater warmth than he would have bestowed on the hand of some marble statue of a saint. "It often happens," continued she, "that a first fault destroys the prospects of a whole life. I believed you dead; why did I survive you? What good has it done me to mourn for you eternally in the secret recesses of my heart?--only to make a woman of thirty-nine look like a woman of fifty. Why, having recognized you, and I the only one to do so--why was I able to save my son alone? Ought I not also to have rescued the man that I had accepted for a husband, guilty though he were? Yet I let him die! What do I say? Oh, merciful heavens, was I not accessory to his death by my supine insensibility, by my contempt for him, not remembering, or not willing to remember, that it was for my sake he had become a traitor and a perjurer? In what am I benefited by accompanying my son so far, since I now abandon him, and allow him to depart alone to the baneful climate of Africa? Oh, I have been base, cowardly, I tell you; I have abjured my affections, and like all renegades I am of evil omen to those who surround me!"

"No, Mercédès," said Monte Cristo, "no; you judge yourself with too much severity. You are a noble-minded woman, and it was your grief that disarmed me. Still I was but an agent, led on by an invisible and offended Deity, who chose not to withhold the fatal blow that I was destined to hurl. I take that God to witness, at whose feet I have prostrated myself daily for the last ten years, that I would have sacrificed my life to you, and with my life the projects that were indissolubly linked with it. But--and I say it with some pride, Mercédès--God needed me, and I lived. Examine the past and the present, and endeavor to dive into futurity, and then say whether I am not a divine instrument. The most dreadful misfortunes, the most frightful sufferings, the abandonment of all those who loved me, the persecution of those who did not know me, formed the trials of my youth; when suddenly, from captivity, solitude, misery, I was restored to light and liberty, and became the possessor of a fortune so brilliant, so unbounded, so unheard-of, that I must have been blind not to be conscious that God had endowed me with it to work out his own great designs. From that time I looked upon this fortune as something confided to me for an especial purpose. Not a thought was given to a life which you once, Mercédès, had the power to render blissful; not one hour of peaceful calm was mine; but I felt myself driven on like an exterminating angel. Like adventurous captains about to embark on some enterprise full of danger, I laid in my provisions, I loaded my weapons, I collected every means of attack and defence; I inured my body to the most violent exercises, my soul to the bitterest trials; I taught my arm to slay, my eyes to behold excruciating sufferings, and my mouth to smile at the most horrid spectacles. Good-natured, confiding, and forgiving as I had been, I became revengeful, cunning, and wicked, or rather, immovable as fate. Then I launched out into the path that was opened to me. I overcame every obstacle, and reached the goal; but woe to those who stood in my pathway!"

"Enough," said Mercédès; "enough, Edmond! Believe me, that she who alone recognized you has been the only one to comprehend you; and had she crossed your path, and you had crushed her like glass, still, Edmond, still she must have admired you! Like the gulf between me and the past, there is an abyss between you, Edmond, and the rest of mankind; and I tell you freely that the comparison I draw between you and other men will ever be one of my greatest tortures. No, there is nothing in the world to resemble you in worth and goodness! But we must say farewell, Edmond, and let us part."

"Before I leave you, Mercédès, have you no request to make?" said the count.

"I desire but one thing in this world, Edmond,--the happiness of my son."

"Pray to the Almighty to spare his life, and I will take upon myself to promote his happiness."

"Thank you, Edmond."

"But have you no request to make for yourself, Mercédès?"

"For myself I want nothing. I live, as it were, between two graves. One is that of Edmond Dantès, lost to me long, long since. He had my love! That word ill becomes my faded lip now, but it is a memory dear to my heart, and one that I would not lose for all that the world contains. The other grave is that of the man who met his death from the hand of Edmond Dantès. I approve of the deed, but I must pray for the dead."

"Your son shall be happy, Mercédès," repeated the count.

"Then I shall enjoy as much happiness as this world can possibly confer."

"But what are your intentions?"

"To say that I shall live here, like the Mercédès of other times, gaining my bread by labor, would not be true, nor would you believe me. I have no longer the strength to do anything but to spend my days in prayer. However, I shall have no occasion to work, for the little sum of money buried by you, and which I found in the place you mentioned, will be sufficient to maintain me. Rumor will probably be busy respecting me, my occupations, my manner of living--that will signify but little."

"Mercédès," said the count, "I do not say it to blame you, but you made an unnecessary sacrifice in relinquishing the whole of the fortune amassed by M. de Morcerf; half of it at least by right belonged to you, in virtue of your vigilance and economy."

"I perceive what you are intending to propose to me; but I cannot accept it, Edmond--my son would not permit it."

"Nothing shall be done without the full approbation of Albert de Morcerf. I will make myself acquainted with his intentions and will submit to them. But if he be willing to accept my offers, will you oppose them?"

"You well know, Edmond, that I am no longer a reasoning creature; I have no will, unless it be the will never to decide. I have been so overwhelmed by the many storms that have broken over my head, that I am become passive in the hands of the Almighty, like a sparrow in the talons of an eagle. I live, because it is not ordained for me to die. If succor be sent to me, I will accept it."

"Ah, madame," said Monte Cristo, "you should not talk thus! It is not so we should evince our resignation to the will of heaven; on the contrary, we are all free agents."

"Alas!" exclaimed Mercédès, "if it were so, if I possessed free-will, but without the power to render that will efficacious, it would drive me to despair." Monte Cristo dropped his head and shrank from the vehemence of her grief. "Will you not even say you will see me again?" he asked.

"On the contrary, we shall meet again," said Mercédès, pointing to heaven with solemnity. "I tell you so to prove to you that I still hope." And after pressing her own trembling hand upon that of the count, Mercédès rushed up the stairs and disappeared. Monte Cristo slowly left the house and turned towards the quay. But Mercédès did not witness his departure, although she was seated at the little window of the room which had been occupied by old Dantès. Her eyes were straining to see the ship which was carrying her son over the vast sea; but still her voice involuntarily murmured softly, "Edmond, Edmond, Edmond!"



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